May 23, 2023
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Leo possesses more than 17 years of valuable experience as a researcher and lecturer within the fields of Biology and Genetics. Holding a PhD in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina...
Last Updated on November 18, 2023 by Leonela Carabajal Paladino
The process of bleaching hair is a scientific one. It alters the structure of your hair and requires you to change your hair care regimen. Caring for bleached hair, whether it’s straight hair, wavy hair, or curly hair, requires intensive moisturizing treatments. You must know the steps to take to keep your hair in good condition before committing to bleaching.
Bleaching involves lightening the hair using an alkaline and oxidation process. Hydrogen peroxide is often used as an oxidation agent and is left on the hair for about twenty minutes before being washed off. Preserve your bleached color using purple shampoo, protective spray, protein treatments, and hair masks.
In my own journey of maintaining healthy hair for the past 7 years, I’ve ventured into bleaching quite a bit. While some outcomes were fantastic, there were instances where my curly hair suffered severe damage, leading to significant hair loss.
With my personal experience, coupled with insights from my hair scientist friend—an expert in the field—we’re collectively sharing the importance of thoughtful care for bleached hair.
If you’re considering bleaching your hair, it’s crucial to comprehend the processes it has undergone and prioritize its care afterward.
The best way to effectively care for your hair at home and ensure it maintains its best appearance is by combining preservation and restoration techniques.
To counteract the adverse effects of bleach, consider the following restoration steps:
Hair bleach can significantly impact hair in both good and bad ways. When restoring or preserving the integrity of blond hair, finding a balance between moisture and protein is essential. Maintain your newly bleached color by following these Do’s and Don’ts:
– Use a purple shampoo to counteract any yellow tones. (Wait about two weeks before adding this to your care routine).
– Use a leave-in conditioner.
– Use a color-preserving shampoo and conditioner.
– Use hair masks/deep conditioners regularly.
– Use heat-protectant products if or when styling your hair.
– Avoid excessive sun and heat exposure.
– Wash your hair immediately after bleaching.
– Bleach your hair again soon after bleaching.
– Use harsh shampoos to wash your hair.
– Forget to condition your hair.
– Leave out hair masks and heat protection products.
Remember that the key to maintaining your bleached hair is giving it extra moisture and care.
Bleaching is probably one of the most popular hair coloring processes among consumers globally. With only 2% of the world’s population having naturally blonde hair, bleaching is the number one way to lighten hair color and achieve a brighter, more radiant look.14
The word “bleaching” is defined as the lightening of hair color via a chemical process or exposure to sunlight. A combination of alkaline and oxidation processes is used to achieve a bleached hair effect.15,16
The oxidizing agent most commonly used is hydrogen peroxide. The process involves applying an alkaline mixture to open the cuticles of the hair strands. The oxidizing agent is then applied to the hair fibers. It is left to work for 15 to 20 minutes or so.17
The bleach is removed from the hair with warm water. The hair is treated with a clarifying shampoo to rinse away the bleaching chemical.17
Hair bleaching is a complex chemical process that alters the structure and quality of your hair. Once bleached, your hair needs special care due to these changes, and it’s important to note that the bleaching process comes with significant risks. To put it simply, your hair care routine will need to undergo special care once you start bleaching your hair.15
Now, let’s go through the fundamentals of hair bleaching.
Hair bleaching is a chemical process that strips or removes the natural color of your hair by eliminating melanin, the pigment responsible for its color.
This change in color is permanent and irreversible. The bleaching process involves opening up the hair cuticle to allow the bleach to reach the cortex, where both the hair cuticle and medulla are located.15,17
Melanin, a microgranular substance found in the cortex of the hair, scatters incoming solar radiation, contributing to the hair’s color. This pigment is produced by specialized cells called melanocytes through a process called melanogenesis.
In hair, there are two types of melanin, each with distinct biosynthesis pathways, characteristics, and colors:
A person’s hair color is influenced by the type of melanin present. The interplay of various factors, including the ratio and distribution of melanins, the size of pigment granules, and the melanin quantity within the hair fiber, also contributes. This process varies across different hair types.18
One of the most commonly used chemicals in hair bleaching is alkaline hydrogen peroxide.
However, hydrogen peroxide isn’t stable in high pH conditions, which is why it’s mixed with an alkaline ammonia solution just before application to the hair.
While other alkalizing agents can have similar effects, ammonia is often preferred due to its specific role in the bleaching process.
When mixed with ammonia, the pH of hydrogen peroxide increases, activating it to initiate the chemical reaction.
The alkaline hydrogen peroxide works to break down the melanin grains, solubilizing them at a high pH into smaller, more hydrophilic molecules. These smaller molecules can dissolve in water, and they are then subsequently rinsed off during the process.21
Bleaching hair is a widespread practice globally, yielding stunning results for many. However, it’s crucial to be aware of potential adverse effects before deciding to bleach your hair.
Some adverse effects of bleached hair include:
It’s important to note that the oxidation process involved in hair bleaching is a harsh chemical process. The high pH hydrogen peroxide can cause significant damage to the hair fibers, leading to increased vulnerability, especially for those with underlying conditions.
When considering the aftermath of bleached hair, understand that your curl pattern may change, there’s a risk of hair breakage and significant hair loss, and the process strips away natural hair oils, leaving your hair more prone to moisture deficiency.2,15,17,21
Now, let’s look at a few essential factors to keep in mind when considering the aftermath of bleached hair.
Hydrogen peroxide not only bleaches melanin but also oxidizes various protein components within hair keratin.
The backbone of the hair’s mechanical strength relies on disulfide bonds. Hydrogen peroxide targets and breaks these essential chemical linkages, resulting in significant damage, increased porosity, and weakness. This makes the hair prone to easy breakage.
Additionally, the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine in keratin undergoes oxidation, transforming into cystic acid. This process renders the hair more hydrophilic, allowing bleached hair to absorb more moisture and exhibit frizz compared to unbleached hair.21
Thinning hair is a possible consequence for some individuals due to protein loss from hair fibers. Repeated bleaching can result in substantial thinning or a reduction in the diameter of the hair shaft. This poses a problem as excessive thinning may ultimately lead to significant hair loss.2
During the bleaching process, both hairdressers and clients aspire to achieve a particular shade of blonde. However, outcomes may not always align with the initial plan.
The final hair color tone might deviate from the anticipated result, often influenced by the current condition of the hair and its history of chemical treatments.
In cases of undesired results, corrective measures are typically needed, involving the use of toners or color modifiers.
In essence, bleaching significantly affects the quality of hair, its physiochemical features, and its manageability.
Bleaching is a rigorous process that breaks down the proteins in your hair to eliminate color. Consequently, your hair may become weak, dry, brittle, and more prone to damage.
The impact of bleaching varies based on the frequency of the procedure, the initial health of your hair, and the post-bleaching care you provide.
If you frequently bleach your hair or if it’s already damaged, the potential for significant short and long-term damage is heightened.
Yes, bleached hair can be healthy, but achieving this requires a dedicated and balanced hair care routine to counteract potential damage and keep your hair in its most vibrant state.
It’s crucial to note that bleaching isn’t suitable for everyone. It demands a continuous commitment involving your time, effort, and consistent maintenance.
Hair that has undergone the color removal process is termed as bleached. To restore the original color, the only option is to dye it back to its original color.
Bleaching removes your hair’s natural oils and leaves it dry. While washing your hair right after bleaching is not advisable, you can do so a week or two later. This allows your hair to recover from the process and retain essential moisture.
The extent to which your hair can grow after bleaching depends on the care it receives. Excessive bleach use increases the risk of hair breakage. However, with proper care and avoiding over-processing, it’s indeed possible for bleached hair to grow.
Yes, coconut oil is good for bleached hair. You may use coconut oil weekly to help rebuild your hair strands and regain the luster.
Do not bleach your hair twice in one day! This can cause your hair to break off and leave your hair discolored.
Exposure to the sun can break down the melanin in your hair, resulting in a lighter color. This lightened shade will persist until you either re-dye your hair or until new hair growth occurs.
Yes, bleached hair can fade, but it doesn’t revert to your natural hair color. As time passes, the toner washes out, causing the color to become darker or dull, with yellow pigments reemerging. Typically, faded bleached hair tends to turn brassy or orange.
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